Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

Alison Wheaton is CEO of GSM London (formerly Greenwich School of Management), a for-profit private higher education institution in West London. She has just been appointed to the Higher Education Funding Council for England's committee on leadership, governance and management

Where and when were you born?

I was born in a very small town near Buffalo, New York in 1964.

How has that shaped you?

I grew up in a rural, working-class town. My great grandfather was a farmer. My grandfather held an unskilled blue-collar job. My mother did not have the opportunity to go to college as the money was set aside for her brother. She excelled at administrative roles. Each generation hoped their children would have a better life than themselves, but education was not essential.

What role did higher education play in bringing you to this point in your career?

My stepfather was a professor, so there was no question about whether I'd go to university. Despite our lack of resources, I went to the best university I could get into and worked for 20 hours a week and took out lots of student loans to fund it. I studied government and economics at Cornell University; while there, I became curious about how organisations worked. Also, I took time out to study at the London School of Economics for two terms.

After three years in banking, I returned to higher education when I studied for my MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. My strong educational background and experience gave me the confidence that I had the right raw material, skills and qualities to take on subsequent challenges in my career.

What impact do you hope to have in your new Hefce committee position?

Given my curiosity, I hope to listen and learn more about governance, leadership and management challenges across the sector in both publicly funded and private providers. I also hope to be able to make specific contributions on particular topics such as consumer insight, strategy and effectiveness. …

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